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If you have a small plastic slide in your backyard, your 18- to 24-month-old toddler will probably be able to climb up and slide down without your help. But before that, kids don't always have the balance or body control to stay upright, which means they can get hurt or bang their head on the way down.
If you're wondering about letting her go down a bigger slide, like the kind you generally find at playgrounds and parks, wait until your child is 2 before you let her try it on her own. Even then, stay very close by.
"Toddlers don't have the sense to know when they're too close to the edge," says Victoria J. Youcha, of Zero to Three, a nonprofit organization devoted to the healthy development of infants and toddlers. "If you're going to let your child slide on his own, she should be able to follow your directions: 'Sit down now,' 'don't lean over the edge,' 'hold on,' and so on."
Don't try to help your child by putting her on your lap to go down a slide together. It's easy for a toddler to get her foot stuck on the way down, which can injure her foot, leg, or even hip. And for safety's sake, don't allow your child to climb up the slide – she should always use the ladder or steps.